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Royal Tern

Royal Tern
Photo Information
Copyright: Peter van Zoest (PeterZ) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2010-05-04
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D300, AF Nikkor 70-300mm f4-5.6 G, Digital RAW
Exposure: f/11, 1/500 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2010-06-18 8:31
Viewed: 4571
Points: 58
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I thought it was the first photo of this species on TN, but Michal Bajor found a photo in 2005 from Scott Evers with the american subspecies. Only the thalasseus maximus albididorsalis is new, sorry.

The Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus, syn. Sterna maxima - see Bridge et al., 2005) is a seabird in the tern family Sternidae. This bird has two distinctive subspecies.

T. m. maximus breeds on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the southern USA and Mexico into the Caribbean. The slightly smaller T. m. albididorsalis breeds in coastal west Africa.

American birds winter south to Peru and Argentina, and African breeders move both north and south from the breeding colonies.

African birds may reach as far north as Spain. This species has also wandered to western Europe as a rare vagrant, these records probably being from the American colonies.

This species breeds in colonies on coasts and islands. It nests in a ground scrape and lays one or two eggs. Like all white terns, it is fiercely defensive of its nest and young.

Royal Tern feeds by plunge-diving for fish, usually from saline environments, like most Sterna terns. It usually dives directly, and not from the "stepped-hover" favoured by Arctic Tern. The offering of fish by the male to the female is part of the courtship display.

This is a large tern, second only to Caspian Tern but is unlikely to be confused with that carrot-billed giant, which has extensive dark underwing patches. Royal Tern has a long yellow bill, pale grey upperparts and white underparts. Its legs are black. In winter, the black cap becomes patchy. Juvenile Royal Terns have a scaly-backed appearance. The call is a characteristic loud grating noise like a Sandwich Tern.

In various parts of its range, Royal could be confused with Elegant Tern, Great Crested Tern and Lesser Crested Tern (see also Orange-billed tern). It is paler above than Lesser Crested Tern and the yellow-billed Great Crested Tern. Elegant Tern has a longer more curved bill and shows more white on the forehead in winter.

The appearance of apparent Elegant Terns in European waters means that records of Royal and Elegant Terns will need to be re-evaluated, since the latter species was thought an improbable migrant to the area.

The Royal Tern is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

Source: Wikipedia

Argus, siggi, marius-secan, Dis. Ac., cirano, mwmod99, uleko, CeltickRanger, vanda, jlinaresp, smitha, maurydv, sandpiper2, Alex99, jconceicao, marhowie, Pentaxfriend, Amelia has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To marhowie: Royal TernPeterZ 1 06-26 06:34
To michal: Right!PeterZ 1 06-18 11:04
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • horias Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 837 W: 58 N: 2084] (11033)
  • [2010-06-18 8:36]

Hi Peter
Wonderful shot of this lovely Royal tern, for the first time on TN.
Great details and colors. Congratulation for this beauty!

Ciao Peter, beautiful Royal Tern in fantastic fly, wonderful light and colors, splendid sharpness and fine details, very well done my friend, ciao Silvio

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2010-06-18 9:38]

Hello Peter,
Once again congratulations on this new species on TN and for making such a fine in-flight capture od a Royal Tern!
The POV, lighting, blue sky Bg and colours are excellent and its features are shown with nice sharpness.
Thanks and have a good weekend,

Very nice photo, but I don't think it's a "first on TN" - see here:

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2010-06-18 10:43]

Hello Peter.
Fantastic capture of that Royal tern in flight. It is such a beautiful bird, and you did it real justice. The photo is perfect in every way. Best regards Siggi

Ciao Peter. Magnificent flying capture with excelelnte light'sm management and colours. Perfetc details.


Hello Peter,
Great capture with lovely colours and details.
Nice composition with the blue sky around.

Hallo Peter,

zeke een koninklijke vogel.
Goed i de vlucht gefotografeerd met uitstekende detailering en prachtige kleuren.
Prettig weekend en fijne wedstrijd morgen.

  • Great 
  • cirano Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 997 W: 0 N: 944] (13609)
  • [2010-06-18 15:16]

Hello Peter,
Very good picture of this beautiful bird in-flight,nice colors and fine details.TFS and best regards,

Interesting species Peter! Wonderful point of view and really fantastic composition! Correct exposure, the highlight detail is well preserved and the white balance pleasing the eyes! I love it!
George Veltchev

Great moment, Peter, to see the wide open wings - so long, also a long beak - and all in fantastic sharpness against that blue sky, it's wonderful. Very good shot, thanks.
Have a nice weekend
Sabine - wishnugaruda

Hola Peter

Gracias por tu comentario.

Esta si que es una buena parada de imagen, ha quedado perfectamente nitido, y por cierto el ave te esta mirando, osea está posando para ti.

Buen fin de semana y un saludo de Antonio.

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2010-06-19 11:51]

Hello Peter,
A fantastic view of this beautiful Royal Tern in flight. The light is wonderful and details very sharp.Lovely blue sky as a background too!
TFS and best wishes, Ulla

hello Peter

excellent close-up in-flight photo of the Royal Tern,
with a fine POV to show its underparts, fine focus
excellent sharpness and details, beautiful light
coming to the bird's head part, TFS


  • Great 
  • vanda Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 338 W: 25 N: 754] (3673)
  • [2010-06-19 14:00]

Hi Peter!
Excellent sharp capture of this nice Royal Tern, with its wings opened. The sharpness is excellent and the details of the plumage are fantastic.
Beautiful lights and shadows.
Ciao! Vanda

Hello Peter,
Definitively, you did great things in Senegal! this is a beautiful picture! Pleasantly, harmonious and dynamic.
TFS, regards, Jesús

Hello Peter,
Absolutely delightful picture of this Royal tern in flight.
Excellent quality with regarsds to sharpness, details, exposure and composition.
Thanks for the share,

Hellow Peter,
Well captured image with pinsharpness and strong BG contrast.Good exposure has given sharp details of this tern in full flight.Great shot.

Gracias por tus comentarios a mi última toma Peter. Tu trabajo interesante, con un atrevido pero efectivo encuadre, desde un ángulo difícil.
Un abrazo: Josep Ignasi.

Hello Peter,
Excellent inflight photo taken with great sharp details, lovely colors and good composition. Well done!

Hallo Peter,
congratulation on this first on TN; a very beautiful capture of the Royal Tern in-flight, very good sharpness and marvellous natural colours, a very beautiful posture of this splendid bird.
Have a good week
Ciao Maurizio

Hi Peter

Great shot of this tern in flight. Good sharpness and compopsition.


  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2010-06-21 21:19]

Hi Peter.
Wonderful in-flight picture of a fine bird. Timing is great as well as the frozen pose of the tern. Exposure is excellent and composition of the shot is spot on too. My kind wishes and TFS. Nice work.

  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2010-06-22 1:51]

Hello Peter,
a very skillful capture. the bird is really elegant and you have frozen the moment very well. I like the stare it gave to you.
Nice sharpness and clarity.
Very swift action by you and still giving emphasis to the details unharmed.


Hello Peter,

Beautiful capture.
Light,focus and composition are fantastic.
Good definition.

Nicely done Peter, I especially like the comp & POV..
The details look great, well exposed :)

Ha Peter,

Mooi shot van deze Stern
Prachtige compo
schitterend belicht
focus Perfect
Goed scherp gedetailerd

TFS Thijs

Hi Peter,

Great job freezing the flying, the almost diagonal composition is perfect. Very sharp. Good work MF!
TFS and have anice WE!


Magnificent! We have many common terns in Norway, and I have binned many photos of them.

Exquisite details against a wonderful blue background. I am full of admiration.

Groetjes, Amelia

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